Massachusetts law and fair debt collection (Part 1)

It's a nightmare situation for many Quincy residents: the phone rings and the caller starts making demands, eventually escalating to threats. They won't say who they are, but they keep calling back, sometimes in the middle of the night. They call at work. It seems they can get away with all manner of harassment and intimidation, all because a debt has fallen into collection.

What too many Quincy residents do not realize is that there are laws in Massachusetts designed to protect consumers from this kind of treatment and ensure that creditors use only fair debt collection practices. These regulations hold true regardless of whether the collection is being attempted by an original creditor (i.e., the entity that loaned out the money), a collection agency, or someone who purchased a debt after it became delinquent. With the understanding that the information is general in nature only and not specific legal advice, let's take a look at what Massachusetts law considers to be fair debt collection practices.

It is legal for a debt collector to attempt to call someone at home, but they must limit calls to two within a seven-day period. However, if debt collector is trying to recover more than one debt, then they may make two such calls per seven-day period per debt. They may also call one's workplace, but calls to a place other than one's home are limited to two every 30 days. A written request to stop calling one's workplace is sufficient to block such calls until otherwise indicated, but a request made orally can only block calls for a 10-day period.

We'll take a look at some more fair debt collection practices in Massachusetts in a follow-up post, but in the meantime we emphasize that bankruptcy can provide lasting debt relief for many who qualify. Laws exist to protect consumers from unfair practices, but it takes a bankruptcy filing to provide the fresh financial start many Quincy residents need.

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